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Lusaka: From parliamentary greenhorn to budding Senate speaker

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When Jubilee Party fronted him to be its Senate speaker candidate prior to August 2017, most people believed Kenneth Lusaka’s prospects were weak.

He was considered a greenhorn in Parliamentary affairs, having neither served as an MP nor a Speaker.

It was viewed he could not beat his main competitor Farah Maalim (Nasa candidate) and immediate former Speaker Ekwee Ethuro.

During that heated election, Ethuro got 2 votes, Rameshchandra Gorassia got 0, Lusaka got 40 while Maalim got 23.

Others who sought to be Senate speakers were former West Mugirango MP James Gesami who got 0 and Paul Gichuke Ribathi who had 1.

Standing Order No.7 (1) provides that: “A person shall not be elected as Speaker unless supported in a ballot by the votes of two-thirds of all the Senators”.

That is, unless supported by the votes of 45 Senators, none of the candidates met the threshold.

During the second round that required only a candidate to get simple majority to be declared the winner, Lusaka had 42 while Maalim had 25.

Soon after Senate Clerk Jeremiah Nyegeye declared him the winner on the afternoon of August 31 2017, the former District Officer and a former Livestock PS in the grand coalition caused a stir when he majestically walked into the House.

“You may take your seats, Hon Senators,” these were his first words to be captured in the Hansard. 

In his victory speech, he assured senators that he was up to the task and that he will rally the legislators to protect Senate and devolution as well as ending the supremacy wars that had been witnessed between the National Assembly and the Senate.

“We will speak on out on any subject under the sun so long as it affects Kenyans. We will adopt a proactive approach and strive to make the Senate to be a friend of all Kenyans and let the Senate be their sanctuary in times of distress. Let the Senate be a beacon of sobriety and hope for Kenyans of all ages,” he said in his remarks.

He added: “Let me say that the Second Senate is no longer nyumba ya wazee. The second Senate under the Constitution of Kenya 2010 will strive to reach out and harmoniously work with the national Government. The so-called supremacy wars must be a thing of the past. That is how tangible and progressive milestones will be realised by our bicameral Parliament.”

In the past one year and five months, under his leadership, the Senate has published 47 Bills, three of which were passed and assented to.

A total of 13 Bills have been referred to the National Assembly for consideration and are yet to be concluded while one has been amended by the National Assembly and is before the Senate for consideration of the amendments.

Lusaka told the Star in an interview at his office that 28 Bills are at various stages of consideration by the House while two are in the National Assembly for concurrence.

A total of 90 Motions were filed in the Senate, 62 of which were passed without amendments and five others with amendments.

At the closure of House business three weeks ago, three motions had been conclusively debated and are awaiting senators to vote on them while 19 motions are pending debate.

The Senate speaker said a total of 42 petitions  were filed 12 were considered by the relevant Standing Committees, reports tabled in the House and copies of responses sent to the respective petitioners. 

He noted that 30 petitions are pending conclusion by respective Standing Committees.

“The Senate has had marked successes, solid and well thought out rulings. Whereas the Senate and National Assembly of the 11th Parliament were embroiled in turf wars to the extent of going to the Supreme Court, the 12th Parliament has better relations,” he said.

Lusaka also led the Senate in inaugural sitting of the House outside Nairobi (held in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu county in September). 

Read: Senate holds first sitting out of Nairobi, Sh9bn budget cuts focus of talks

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